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Australian businesses to build Hunter Class frigate prototyping blocks

Australian businesses that supply equipment and services, from scaffolding and pipes to deck coverings and insulation, will today learn how to secure an estimated $20 million in contracts through the Hunter Class Frigate Program.

More than 150 businesses from around Australia will converge in Adelaide for a procurement update that launches the process to bid for work during the Hunter program’s prototyping phase, which commences next year.

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During the program’s prototyping phase, due to begin in December 2020, five prototyping blocks will be built at the Osborne Naval Shipyard, in South Australia.

During this phase, Australian businesses that supply minor equipment, materials and services can bid for an estimated $20 million in contracts across two specific supplier categories. In one of those categories, known as 'category D', the Hunter program is committed to achieving 100 per cent Australian suppliers.

Managing director of ASC Shipbuilding Craig Lockhart said, "The Hunter program is committed to maximising opportunities for Australian suppliers through supply contracts and initiatives to nurture and grow small-to-medium sized businesses."

The prototyping phase is a crucial stage in the program where all the processes, systems, tools, facilities and workforce competencies will be tested and refined before construction on the first frigate commences in 2022.

"By maximising opportunities for local suppliers through contracts for supply and initiatives to nurture and grow small-to-medium sized businesses, we are raising the Australian defence industry’s ability to compete for and win domestic and international maritime work," Lockhart said. 

The prototyping phase is committed to achieving 100 per cent Australian category D suppliers and will maximise as much as possible the number of local category C suppliers.

Lockhart added, "Today’s procurement update is not a just an information session – this is a genuine opportunity for our team to help Australian businesses bid for upcoming contracts to supply equipment and materials for the prototyping blocks, like scaffolding, pipes, steel, deck coverings, cables and insulation, as well as services, like outfitting and painting."

During the production phase of the Hunter Class frigates, the Hunter program has committed to the Australian government that 100 per cent of category D suppliers will be Australian and a minimum of 50 per cent category C suppliers will be local.

One representative from 150 Australian companies will attend today’s update, and businesses that have pre-qualified to work on the Hunter program and have expressed interest in the update, but can’t make it to Adelaide, will receive a recording. To date, more than 800 businesses based across Australia and several in New Zealand have pre-qualified through the Industry Capability Network (ICN) Gateway to work on the Hunter program.

"That’s one of our strategies and commitments to building a world-class, sovereign capability for continuous naval shipbuilding for this country," Mr Lockhart said. 

The nine Hunter Class frigates will be based on the BAE Systems Type 26 Global Combat Ship currently under construction for the Royal Navy and will replace the eight Anzac Class frigates when they enter service beginning in the late 2020s.

The Hunter Class is billed as an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) centric vessel delivering an advanced ASW capability to the Royal Australian Navy at a time when 50 per cent of the world’s submarines will be operating in the Indo-Pacific region.

BAE Systems Australia announced that it had selected Lockheed Martin Australia and Saab Australia as combat systems integration industry partners, responsible for delivering the Australian designed CEAFAR 2 Active Phased Array Radar, Lockheed Martin designed Aegis combat management system and Saab Australia 9LV tactical interface.

The $35 billion program sees ASC Shipbuilding become a subsidiary of BAE Systems throughout the build process beginning in 2020 at the Osborne Shipyard in South Australia, creating more than 4,000 jobs.

BAE Systems expects the Australian industry content for the Hunter Class build will be 65-70 per cent, which will create and secure thousands of jobs for decades. At the end of the program, the Commonwealth will resume complete ownership of ASC Shipbuilding, thereby ensuring the retention in Australia of intellectual property, a highly skilled workforce and the associated equipment.

SEA 5000 is expected to support over 500 Australian businesses who have been pre-qualified to be part of the Hunter Class supply chain, with the Australian steel industry in particular benefiting from the 48,000 tonnes of steel required to build the ships

If you’re a supplier and you would like to register your interest in working on the Hunter program, visit www.icn.org.au

Australian businesses to build Hunter Class frigate prototyping blocks
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